News

B.C. First Nations, Province partner in historic revenue-sharing agreement

February 20th, 2019

As part of Budget 2019, First Nations in British Columbia will have a stable, long-term source of funding to invest in their communities’ priorities, through a historic revenue-sharing agreement between the Province and the First Nations Leadership Council.

Starting April 2019, approximately $3 billion over 25 years will be shared with B.C. First Nations, meaning every First Nation community in B.C. will be eligible for between $250,000 and $2 million annually through the agreement.

First Nations communities will determine their own priorities for the funding, which can be used for a wide range of benefits, including: health and wellness, housing, infrastructure, training, environmental protection, economic development, governance capacity and other uses.

The agreement to share provincial gaming revenue was reached after decades of work and advocacy by the First Nations Leadership Council, represented by the First Nations Gaming Commission, as directed through resolutions by Chiefs at assemblies of the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations, the First Nations Summit and the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs. The Commission is establishing a new B.C. First Nations limited partnership to manage the funding, overseen by a First Nations-appointed board of directors.

Sharing revenue with First Nations communities is an important step that puts reconciliation into action. This agreement is part of B.C.’s commitment to create a new fiscal relationship with First Nations, recognizing self-government and self-determination.

Quotes:

Grand Chief Joe Hall, former chair, BC First Nations Gaming Commission –

“The B.C. government is finally implementing a long-awaited agreement to share gaming revenue that will enable First Nations the opportunity to prioritize critically important community issues that have long hindered their beneficial development.”

Premier John Horgan –

“This agreement will change lives for the better in every corner of the province. It means consistent, predictable and sustainable funding to support critical things every government needs, like improving infrastructure, implementing long-term planning and pursuing development opportunities to address the economic, social and cultural needs of Indigenous peoples on the lands that have belonged to them since time began. This is transformative for people, families and communities, and we’re very excited about that.”

Carole James, Minister of Finance –

“This agreement is the result of decades of tireless work by the First Nations Leadership Council to ensure that the resources of our province are shared in a way that advances self-government and self-determination. I’m enormously proud of what we have accomplished together to ensure that communities have the resources they need and deserve.”

Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation –

“With this new source of funding, First Nations communities will have added resources to invest in important priorities that help communities flourish – social services, education, infrastructure, cultural revitalization and economic development. We are proud to put reconciliation into action by supporting the right of every First Nation in B.C. to self-government and self-determination. ”

Regional Chief Terry Teegee, British Columbia Assembly of First Nations –

“First Nations have demanded a fair share from their territories for decades – our title and rights include an economic component that requires sharing in all sectors. The revenue-sharing agreement paves the way for First Nations to finally access a share of the provincial gaming revenue as well as access to community gaming grants that will support positive community change. We look forward to the upcoming Phase 2 of discussions on direct First Nations participation in gaming industry opportunities.”

Robert Phillips, First Nations Summit political executive –

“Every additional dollar into B.C. First Nations communities, including gaming funds, will directly correlate to better living conditions and an improved quality of life. Past studies have clearly shown that such an infusion of new funds into communities annually will measurably enhance the economy of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, supporting the notion that healthy Indigenous economies benefit all British Columbians.”

Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs –

“We are extremely pleased that the persistent work of the BC First Nations Gaming Commission is being realized – revenue sharing on gaming marks an important step in recognizing the economic component to Indigenous inherent title and self-determination to make our own decisions about our territories. Next steps are aligning legislative codes and policies to this First Nations gaming agreement and to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

Quick Facts:

  • In 2017-18, the B.C. government collected $1.391 billion in net revenue from gaming activities.
  • Currently, 31% of total provincial gaming revenue is distributed to fund a Health Special Account, community gaming grants and host local governments. This will remain unchanged, and an additional 7% will be distributed to the First Nations new limited partnership. The remainder will continue to go into the Province’s general revenues.
  • Funding will be distributed to communities based on the following formula, developed by the First Nations Gaming Commission in consultation with First Nations:
    • 50% base funding (divided equally among partnered First Nations, including modern Treaty Nations, in B.C.);
    • 40% based on population, and
    • 10% for geographically remote communities.

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